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The Crackle Plays: ‘A Man and His Island’ - Heavo

We go in depth on the Nashville producer’s newest album

9th Feb 2019

This week we take a closer look at Heavo’s latest project

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee; Heavo began his production journey at 16. Becoming fascinated with the story behind a songs creation. He took this fascination and began researching audio production. Beats became an obsession after messing with FL studio in his teens. In his own words it was a ‘catalyst for learning more about audio engineering as well as making music that (he is) incredibly passionate about’. Crafting his own sound, ‘A Man and His Island’ is his latest work but how has this lifelong passion translated into his music? 

The entirety of ‘A Man and His Island’ has what I like to call a crusty warmth. A tonal warmth that comes from the dust inherent the sounds presented. Each of the beats on this project is drenched in this kind of internal fuzz. The whole tape is a slice of bit-crushed bliss. Relaxed and calm but always playing with the idea of tone. Take ‘underwater’. This track is celebration of perfect imperfection. The melodics on this track feel as if they are pulling their way through a stereophonic fleece. The drums stay lowkey but drive the track forward with unexpected tonal rhythms in and amongst their central pattern. Heavo injects his own take on tone on this one. The sounds aren’t clean in the traditional sense but that's ok. The individuality of them is what makes them beautiful.

‘A Man and His Island’ is also a great example of raw sampling. The chops are quick and Heavo is not afraid to have them jump, skitter and phase. Far from being a distraction it actually gives the tape heaps of personality. You can hear Heavo’s unique effect style; but the atmosphere that his sharp chops create is never lost. They have an edge but retain the core vibration that made them standout in the first place. When asked about his sample sourcing, Heavo had this to say: ‘As far as sample selection goes I listen to a lot of varied music for sampling purposes. As a producer I'm sure you know the "oh yes this is the sample I'm boutta flip" feeling. I basically listen casually to records while I play Super Smash Brothers Melee until I hear the perfect thing.’ This lowkey approach to picking sounds translates succinctly on ‘A Man and His Island’. 

Across the whole tape there is also alot brave pairings. Heavo delights in mixing and matching vibes here. Soft pianos meet heavy drums. Jazzy breaks meet soul infused vocals. There is some natural alignment but ultimately Heavo keeps you guessing. Nothing on this album is a given. You may hear an intro that sets the tone for one emotion, but then the drums or an extra element kicks in and 180. ‘long island railroad’ is a great example. The beat starts off with a simply beautiful piano phrase. Soft, delicate but full. Then the almost stadium sized drums drop in and turn the vibe on its head. What started as a sorrowful ode transforms into a large statement of beauty. This variety and surprise is compelling. Each beat has your ear because you want to know where Heavo’s gonna take it. 

‘A Man and His Island’ is a lovely slice of musical moods. It saturates your mind with a gorgeous, dusty atmosphere which Heavo experiments with excellently. Heavo told us that he made the whole tape on a couple of SPs and this rawness is evident in the sampling. There is no fear here when it comes to exploring the soundscape. Heavo also is unafraid of pairing different vibes together. Taking his road when it comes to drums and melodics. Ultimately ‘A Man and His Island’ is a real celebration of Heavo’s musical dna and roots. The producer wanted to create something raw and classic sounding and he has achieved that with great aplomb.

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Listen to ‘A Man and His Island’ here:

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